Sunday, February 13, 2011

My favourite meme on the Citadel

Just hangin' out.

The final part of Mass Effect 2, the ‘Suicide Mission’, was one of the most edge-of-your-seat gaming experiences I have had in a long time. Making decisions that directly affected your teammates’ chances of survival, alongside watching them die, made for an exhilarating final chapter to what has been a very enjoyable game. I can plainly understand why this received so many Game of the Year commendations.

Fueled from that, I charged headlong into Batman: Arkham Asylum, a birthday present from my girlfriend. Back in 2009, AA was hailed as a brilliant example of licenced gaming gone right, and I was excited to try it out, even more so because I was relishing the opportunity to play an action game that wasn’t a shooter.

My initial reaction to the gameplay in Arkham Aslyum was lukewarm. I’m not particularly invested in Batman, nor any comicbooks really, but I am familiar with most of the movies, so I know who Batman is, and I know the Joker is the arch bad-guy. Regardless, a good game is a good game, but this situation is from whence my conundrum arose. You see, Arkham Asylum looks great, it sounds great, the voice-acting is largely outstanding, though I found Batman himself to be a bit boring. The gameplay, however, just seemed really repetitive. At this point, I had to step back from it, to try and appreciate it from a different angle. One of the great arguments for sifting through games and only playing the highlights of each year is that you tend to miss out on the lowlights. I started thinking that Batman only seemed bad to me as a consequence of having just finished a great game, as after coming to this conclusion, I was able to let up on it a bit more, and to forgive it’s shortcomings. The Scarecrow scenes were fun at first, and gradually became very frustrating, and at one point, they executed a particular effect that led me to believe I had broken my 3rd xbox, and pissed me off. Probably not the desired effect, I’m sure.

All in all, it has taken me just about a week to finish, and it was a great experience to fly through a game. It gets steadily more difficult, and you are encouraged to learn how to improve. Despite this, I found myself getting by with the standard moves coupled with a ground-pound attack. Nevertheless, an enjoyable comic romp through a pretty well-realised environment, if a little reminiscent of Rapture. Again, good thing or bad thing? I do not know.

Following AA, I was able to get myself back into the Mass Effect universe, something made a lot more exciting by the recent news of Clint Mansell working on the score. It turns out that all the bad things people say about the first Mass Effect are pretty bad, and that those that they praise are pretty good. It’s an unfortunate thing, but, at the minute anyway, I find myself playing it mostly for the story. I find that it does not explain itself particularly well, and I’m only learning how to play it on the fly without any tuition. It’s not a great way to immerse yourself in an environment, particularly when it’s an environment as complicated as this. I frequently die and have been replaying sections in the regions of the twenties and thirties. This does not make it fun, not fun in a challenging way. All success currently feels like a lucky break, and I hope that this will come to an end, and I can begin to breathe a little, instead of gritting my teeth.

On a closing note, I’m wholly displeased at hearing my Shepard’s voice come out of the face of normal Shepard. It really is amazing how attached you become to the guy you create. I wish there was a way to back-import him into this universe.

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